Tag Archives: Supreme Court

House votes 73-18 to criticize gay marriage ruling

The House approved 73-18 Thursday a resolution expressing disagreement with the high court’s landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The resolution (HJR529) was sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Old Hickory.

From The Tennessean:

During the floor discussion, Lynn called the Supreme Court’s action “very dangerous,” saying the court’s decisions should not be allowed to set or change Tennessee law.

“If we let them do this today, they will do it more in the future. We need to speak up as a legislature,” she said.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, of Nashville, said advancing legislation such as Lynn’s as well as bills pertaining to sniper rifles and skunks is distracting the chamber from focusing on more important issues. He questioned whether passage of the resolution would have any impact.

After conceding that the resolution coincided with a lawsuit filed in Williamson County that seeks to halt the issuing of marriage licenses until a court settles the matter, Lynn told Stewart, “What we’re doing here is very important.

Note: See also Jeff Woods, who includes this statement from Tennessee Equality Project:

TEP condemns House passage of HJR529 today on the House floor. Though it has no legal force, the resolution insults the LGBT community with yet another vote on something that should not be voted on, namely, basic rights. The resolution furthermore celebrates lawsuits against local governments in our state, which will take up the time of county clerks and the resources of taxpayers. Yet, the Legislature refused an amendment by Rep. Sherry Jones, which would have required the state to pay for legal costs associated with the lawsuits. Legislative attacks on Tennessee’s LGBT community have become desperate and bizarre.

Justice Page takes oath in private ceremony

Tennessee’s newest state Supreme Court justice, Roger A. Page, was sworn in to office in a private ceremony Monday night after his confirmation by a joint session of the state Legislature, reports the News Sentinel.

Such ceremonies are generally open to the public and announced in advance but there was no public or media notice before the brief ceremony in the Supreme Court’s chamber across from the State Capitol. It was attended by Justice Jeffrey Bivins, who administered the oath of office, Page’s wife Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy, and top staff at the Administrative Office of the Courts, including AOC Director Deborah Tate, who tweeted a photograph of the swearing in.

“The swearing in was just so he could begin work right away. It wasn’t anything anybody was trying to keep private; it was just so he could get to work right away,” Michele Wojciechowski, the AOC’s director of communications, said today in response to inquiries. She said she doesn’t know yet if there will be a public investiture ceremony later.

Page, 60, a former judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam in January to fill a vacancy on the five-member high court created by the retirement last September of former justice Gary Wade, who is now dean of the Lincoln Memorial University law school in Knoxville.

The Legislature voted unanimously Monday evening to confirm the appointment — the first such confirmation under a new process for the appointment and confirmation of state appellate judges ratified by Tennessee voters as a state constitutional amendment in late 2014.

Roger Page unanimously confirmed as Supreme Court justice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Legislature has confirmed the appointment of Roger A. Page to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

A joint convention of the House and Senate voted unanimously Monday to confirm Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s third appointment to the five-member Supreme Court bench.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 granted the Legislature the power to reject the governor’s nominees, but the House and Senate were unable to agree on a confirmation mechanism until this year.

Haslam previously appointed 60-year-old Page to the Court of Appeals in 2011. Page was previously a circuit judge serving Chester, Henderson and Madison counties in West Tennessee.

The Supreme Court vacancy was created by the retirement of Justice Gary Wade, who had given Democrats a 3-2 majority on the Supreme Court.

Sunday column: Supreme contrast between TN and DC

While a great national political dither developed last week over replacing the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, our Legislature was moving methodically — with virtually no controversy whatsoever — to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Barring the bizarre, Roger Page, now a Court of Criminal Appeals judge from West Tennessee, will be formally confirmed Monday evening in a joint House-Senate session as a Tennessee Supreme Court justice, succeeding former Justice Gary Wade, who resigned last September.

Confirmation will probably be unanimous, or nearly so. In contrast, Republicans in Washington gave advance notice that they would reject anyone appointed to succeed Scalia by Democratic President Barack Obama, assuring the conservative justice’s seat will remain empty for a year as a political uproar continues.

Oh, there had been some Tennessee legislator dithering previously. But that year-long and rather arcane dispute was between the House and Senate over the procedural aspects of judicial confirmation. It was resolved a couple of weeks ago with a House-Senate compromise on circumstances that would cause rejection of a gubernatorial nominee – a situation that virtually all legislators agreed did not apply in the case of Page, but which many fretted could develop at some point in the future if a governor goes wild and makes a controversial appointment.
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Alexander, Corker join GOP calls to leave Scalia’s seat empty til next year

Echoing other Republican congressmen, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker suggested Monday that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor should be chosen by the next president and not by President Barack Obama, reports Michael Collins.

Both of the Tennessee Republican senators have argued in the past that a president’s Supreme Court nominees should receive an up-or-down confirmation vote in the Senate and should not be subject to a filibuster, except in extraordinary circumstances.

But in statements released Monday by their offices, Alexander and Corker sided with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said the Senate should not consider a replacement for Scalia until after the November presidential election, even though Obama has said he intends to nominate someone to fill the vacancy.

“I believe it is reasonable to give the American people a voice by allowing the next president to fill this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” said Alexander, a Maryville Republican. “Under our Constitution, the president has the right to nominate, but the Senate has the right to decide whether to consent at this point in a presidential election year.”

Corker, a Chattanooga Republican, made the same argument.

“The president has the right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and the Constitution gives the Senate the power to decide whether to confirm the nominee,” he said. “But at this point I believe it would be more prudent to have the American people express their voice in deciding the future direction of our country.”

TN Supreme Court ups penalty for lawyer in sex scandal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court says a lawyer who was embroiled in a sex-scandal with a drug-addicted client deserves more punishment than a board’s recommended 30-day suspension of his law license.

The state’s highest court on Thursday said Knoxville attorney Robert Vogel should have his law license suspended for a year.

Vogel said he wasn’t aware of the court’s decision but was shocked after hearing about it. He said he admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with a client and had done everything disciplinary authorities had asked him to do.

The court, however, found that Vogel failed to safeguard the trust of a vulnerable client, and he pressured the woman and exploited his role as an attorney while she faced serious federal criminal charges.

Note: News release below
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Judicial confirmation bill goes to the governor

The House voted 86-5 today to approve a compromise plan for legislative confirmation of the governor’s nominees to Tennessee appellate courts. The Senate approved SB1 Wednesday and the House vote thus sends the measure to Gov. Bill Haslam for his anticipated signature.

From the News-Sentinel report on the measure:

The issue was the subject of a dispute between the House and Senate since last year. The bill is needed to implement provisions of the amendment to the Tennessee Constitution ratified by voters in 2014 that altered how Tennessee selects judges on the state Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals — a total of 29 judges in all.

The 2014 amendment removed election of appellate judges from the constitution and replaced it with a system of appointment by the governor and confirmation by the Legislature within 60 days of the appointment or from the start of an annual legislative session if the appointment occurs when the General Assembly is not in session.
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Former Justice Gary Wade’s son missing

UPDATE: He was found safe. Post HERE.

Aaron Zachary Wade, a Sevierville motel manager and the son of former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, is reported missing, reports the News Sentinel.

“Zack” Wade, 41, was last seen at approximately 7:50 a.m. Tuesday on state Highway 66, also known as Windfield Dunn Parkway, in Sevierville. Since then, family members and authorities have been unable to contact Wade.

He was driving a silver 2003 Chrysler Pacifica with a Tennessee license plate of V98-00B.

He was reported missing Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities have spoken to Gary Wade and other family members, who are “extremely concerned,” said Sevierville Police Department spokesman Bob Stahlke.

Stahlke said it was too soon to speculate on whether foul play might be involved.

“We have very little information at all,” he said. “Right now, our concern is just for his general safety.”

Further from WVLT-TV:
Gary Wade says his son Zach is part-owner and longtime General Manager of the Clarion Inn Willow River.

Family members say when Zach left the hotel, he was headed to the SmartBank to deposit cash proceeds from the weekend. When he didn’t pick his two children up from school that afternoon, his father became worried and filed a police report.

Gary Wade said, “He never made the deposit. The last we heard he text messaged one of the hotel employees and said he’d been delayed at the bank.”

Wade says Sevierville Police determined that his son’s phone last pinged near I-40 in Cocke County at Ryan Camp Road. “We’re just on pins and needles. Any number of scenarios are possible I suppose. We’re just hoping mainly that he’s safe.”

Gary Wade says nothing like this has ever happened with his son. He says SmartBank plans to review surveillance videos on Thursday morning.

House, Senate still at odds over judge approval

While voters entrusted state lawmakers in 2014 to ride herd over Tennessee governors’ appointments of top judges, state representatives and senators on Thursday remained at loggerheads over how to do that amid mutual suspicion.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

That’s pretty much where the General Assembly wound up last April on plans to establish a legislative process for confirmation of the five state Supreme Court justices and 24 other appellate court judges named by the governor.

Confirmation or rejection of the appointments was a key provision in the state constitutional amendment approved by voters nearly 18 months ago. It created for the first time legislative say-so over the appointments.

Lawmakers have a 60-day window once their annual session starts to say either yea or nay to a governor’s appointment. If no decision is made the governor’s appointment stands by default.
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Niece’s murder motivated new Supreme Court justice

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday named Appeals Judge Roger A. Page to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Page will join the state’s highest court in mid-March, unless state lawmakers can resolve their differences on a confirmation process for judicial nominees before then. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Justice Gary Wade, who had given Democrats a 3-2 majority on the high court’s bench.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 granted the Legislature the power to reject the governor’s nominees, but the House and Senate have so far been unable to agree on a mechanism to do so.

Haslam appointed 60-year-old Page to the Court of Appeals in 2011. He was previously a circuit judge serving Chester, Henderson and Madison counties in West Tennessee.

“We are fortunate to have someone with such a depth of experience for this important position,” Haslam said in his announcement.

Page said he was inspired to run for judge after his 23-year-old niece was slain in 1995.
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